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Leadership Self-Development Journey
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you.
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
- James Allen
SELF-MOTIVATION: The leader motivates himself with his personal vision, passion, potential and moral convictions.
BEING SERVANT: By choosing to serve and not boss the team, the leader builds them up and collectively they grow to become better leaders in service of the organisation.
BUILDING TEAM: It is in the development and performance of the team that the leader's effectiveness can be seen.
BUILDING SUPPORT: A leader must be able to build support for his ideas and direction or else fail as a leader.
CHARACTER: Leadership involves many tests of courage, resilience and morality which make strong character indispensable.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE: Only by making good heart and mind connections with people can the leader hope to influence them to co-operate enthusiastically.
COMMUNICATION: The leader's ability and commitment to communicate with clarity and appropriateness is essential to his leadership effectiveness.
STRATEGIC THINKING: With the vision or goal in mind, leaders accept responsibility for the most effective way to achieve the vision or goal.
CULTURAL AWARENESS: In an age of globalisation and culturally diverse workplaces, sensitivity for differences is critical to the leader's success in mobilising people as a community.
INSPIRING HOPE: Nothing is as damaging to an organisation as the negative attitudes of its people. It is the leader's uppermost responsibility to inspire hope and create a positive climate.
PERSEVERANCE: Leadership disappears when we give up and emerges when we choose to persevere when others would have given up.
ORGANISATIONAL AWARENESS: Sufficient awareness of different aspects of the organisation, such as the reason for its existence, the history, structure and culture, enables the leader to align himself and his team effectively.
RECOGNITION: Leaders recognise people privately and publicly out of real appreciation for their contributions as well as personal qualities.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: Leadership is by definition action in the context of relationships. To ignore relationships contradicts leadership whereas building them enhances teamwork.
TREND/SYSTEMS AWARENESS: A big-picture view to spot trends early on and an understanding of the influences of systems and their relationships is needed for the strategic direction that the leader must give.
SELF-AWARENESS: Self-awareness opens the door to effective communication and the leader's ability to relate to others.
BUILDING TRUST: By being honest, open and consistent and by showing the willingness to trust the team, the leader lays a strong team foundation for the good, but especially bad times.
SELF-INITIATIVE: To be a leader is to take the initiative to make a positive difference.
PASSION: The leader does not only have to have a strong sense of responsibility, but passion for the cause.
LIFE-BALANCE/RESILIENCE: To sustain his energy and ability to focus, and to set a credible example, a leader needs to have good balance between the different areas of his life and model resilience.
TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS: Understanding the potential positive and negative effects of technology in the organisation enables the leader to balance human interests with efficiency.
ADAPTABILITY: Effective leadership is more a consequence of the leader's ability to adapt well to changes than a consequence of his knowledge or experience.
SELF-CONFIDENCE: To lead requires the confidence to take the first step and have others follow you.
VISIONARY THINKING: The mental picture of a desired destination, big or small, sparks focused activities and worthwhile endeavours, which is why leaders' first task is to imagine the ideal future.
HONESTY/INTEGRITY: The leader is credible and ethical to the extent that his beliefs, values, attitude and behaviour forms an integrated whole.
CREATIVITY/INNOVATION: Since leaders focus on potential and imagine the future to be different, they demonstrate and encourage innovative and creative thinking.
SELF-REGARD: Positive self-regard is necessary for a leader in order to accept criticism, learn from it and continue leading with confidence.
AUTHENTICITY: A leader cannot help others unless he shares himself openly and honestly.
SELF-DISCIPLINE: The leader's self-discipline sets the standard and example for others without which consistent performance is not possible.
LEADERSHIP STYLE: Different situations require different leadership styles to be effective. Good leaders are flexible and versatile in their style.
DECISION MAKING: With firm and apt individual decision making together with skilful facilitation of team decisions the leader ensures momentum and backing for the direction taken.
EMPOWER: The more empowered and free people feel, the more they give to the cause. Rather than trying to control, leaders show trust in people's inherent capabilities.

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Trend/systems awareness
Organisational awareness
Visionary thinking
Strategic thinking
Cultural awareness
Technology awareness


Connecting with people
Building relationships
Being servant
Building support
Building team
Building trust
Leadership style
Decision making
Inspiring hope


Effective communication

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

Rollo May

 Communication works for those who work at it.

John Powell

 The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.

Peter Drucker

Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them.

Edwin H. Friedman

The art of communication is the language of leadership.

James Humes

How do you rate your ability to communicate effectively? I guess it is true for most of us that wehopewe are effective. The thought that we might be much more ineffective than what we are hoping for, is disturbing. After all, who doesn’t want to be taken seriously? Who doesn’t want to feel heard and who doesn’t want to feel respected for his/her thoughts, ideas and conduct? Furthermore, we know that effective communication is necessary for progress, for new platforms of understanding and collaboration. As such, it is necessary for our own advancement in life. To reflect on how we communicate and what is needed for effective communication is therefore an essential key to our success. 

Three things that we should say about communication is that, 1) it is very important in life 2) it is much more complex than just opening one’s mouth and saying something, and 3) it is something that can be developed to be more effective. It is important because it is the way we form and build relationships. It is the way through which we influence others and through which we develop and unlock our potential. It is complex because it is what happens in the unpredictable, emotional and diverse interaction with others. It can be developed because 90% of effective communication comes from the will to communicate effectively. As John Powell says in the quote, ‘communication works for those who work at it’.

In our fast-moving world and information overloaded workplaces one of the most critical errors of thought is to think that communication is merely the process of handing over information. To communicate is to create meaning and if the other person doesn’t understand what we mean, our attempts to communicate have failed. The vaguer we are in what we really mean, even by just sharing information, the more room we leave for disengagement or wrong assumptions – in other words failed communication. The meaning that we attach to what we want to communicate is all important from the perspective of the listener. Jim Rohn believes that effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.  

Long before we might consider using some techniques for easy listening, our first obligation to ourselves and our listeners is that we understand fully what we want to communicate. From right understanding proceeds right thought and from right thought proceeds right speech; from right speech proceeds right action. If understanding is at the base of good communication then it follows that listening precedes good communication. With that said, it is clear that laziness can be a huge impediment for effective communication. To listen well is hard work, it takes a lot of effort. It is in the way we listen or pretend to listen that we either get the connection for effective communication or fail to do so. We need to listen well enough to be able to ‘hear’ what is not being said as well as what is said. The more context we can add to the words uttered, the deeper our understanding. Context takes into consideration aspects such as the age, sex, culture, intellectual ability, receptivity and emotional state of the other person. If the intent is there to understand, we will be asking questions to clarify and deepen our insight.

Lastly, much more important than the words we use is our attitude in general and towards our audience in particular. It is said that words only account for 10% of the communication. The rest is body language (50%) and tone of voice (40%) – both indicators of attitude. Testing attitude questions the leader should ask himself are: Is my attitude positive and my intent to serve others? Do I truly believe what I am saying and do I believe in the people I am saying it to?  

 To summarize:

 To communicate is to create meaning

  • Meaning arises from belief and understanding
  • With meaning comes conviction and feeling
  • Good listening grows understanding and precedes good communication
Attitude either opens or closes the door for communication.

- Gerhard van Rensburg

See other writings by Gerhard


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